On power, habitus, and (in)civility: Foucault meets Elias meets Bauman in the playground
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Ryan, K. (2008) 'On power, habitus, and (in)civility: Foucault meets Elias meets Bauman in the playground'. Journal Of Power, 1 (3):251-274.
Drawing on the work of Foucault, Elias, and Bauman, this article examines how the playground has articulated specific configurations of power/knowledge. Originallydesigned to cultivate virtue and counteract vice, the playgrounds of the past were tocomplete the discipline of the schoolroom, assisting the trained master to direct thechild s thoughts, feelings, and actions. From its tentative beginnings in the work ofRousseau, the strategy of supervised play was intended to conceal its purpose from thechild, with power exercised through discreet forms of surveillance and constraint thatwould, it was hoped, gradually be embodied and re-enacted as self-restraint.Contemporary playgrounds and here the article focuses on Ireland no longer claim tobe directing the conduct of children. Public playgrounds are framed by the UNConvention on the Rights of the Child, while commercial playgrounds provide a serviceto consumers of play. Yet, both unobtrusively act upon the child s capacity for action,and there is a tension between these different modes of provision. Setting recent Eliasianscholarship on de-civilising processes against Bauman s theory of liquid modernity ,and utilising Foucault s notion of government as the conduct of conduct , the articleexamines this tension and shows how it provides insight into the relationship betweenpower, habitus, and (in)civility today.